TIBCO TUCON, an event for leaders

Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for TIBCO that stretches back over many years. As you read this, remember my bias.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for TIBCO that stretches back over many years. As you read this, remember my bias. It goes back to the time when I first read The Power of Now, Vivek Ranadivé, CEO TIBCO's first book. In it, he talks about real- time, event driven enterprises as the winners for the 21st century. That was written in 1999. It struck a chord because the premise upon which it was written made (and continues to make) perfect sense. It underpins much of my personal critique around the so-called 'social enterprise.'

Fast forward 11 years and he, along with Kevin Maney have published The Two Second Advantage, a book which builds upon Ranadivé's past insights, concentrating upon what drives competitive advantage. On this occasion, rather than use the publishing medium as a foil to promote the ideas of an event driven business, the authors discuss how top performing people succeed by anticipating the immediate future. That well worn expression attributed to Wayne Gretsky about going to where the puck will be, not where it is, gets repeated time and again as the quintessential example of what the two second advantage is about.

Paradoxically, this makes TIBCO, with its ever expanding portfolio of tools and solutions increasingly difficult to pigeon hole, a position I believe TIBCO quietly enjoys. It keeps the Gartner's of this world in a state of confusion because TIBCO is occupying a space they cannot define and own. TIBCO does that for itself. In turn that makes marketing at TIBCO in terms Silicon Valley has come to understand something of a low priority. It means that when Ranadivé takes to the stage, it is always with one thing in mind: explaining the incredibly complex in terms anyone can understand and in as short a time as possible. It is crisply delivered but makes for easy criticism by those whose time is too constrained to absorb the nuances implied by Ranadivé's almost child like delivery. Don't be fooled. The ideas behind The Two Second Advantage are directly relevant to technology choices going forward. They are big ideas that require a mindset attuned to differentiation.

Ranadivé is CEO of a company many colleagues have/had long ago written off as irrelevant, peddling commodity tools. Yet today, this company stands on the brink of breaking through the $1 billion revenue mark with a portfolio of tools and emerging industry solutions that represent what is needed to succeed in the 21st century. If that sounds breathtakingly brown nosing from ZDNet's resident curmudgeon then I encourage anyone to listen to TIBCO customers. They are my ultimate arbiters of what matters the most.

TIBCO customers are drawn from the ranks of some of the largest and most recognisable companies on the planet. They are often industry leaders in their own categories. Amazon, FedEx, Chevron, Vodafone, Cisco, ING, HSBC, US Cellular...the list IS a what's what of the great industry brands.

Nielsen's day two keynote where CEO David Calhoun gave a mesmerising talk about what makes his company competitive captured precisely what I needed to hear. Facts, figures, strategy and technology's place, all laid out in an easy way. He threw a nod in TIBCO and TCS direction. It was enough to let the audience know that when all the moving parts needed to take strategy forward are correctly aligned, then success follows. And it is easy. Technology is an implicitly key part of that equation.

In its last quarter, TIBCO inked a $21 million deal with the US government. If all goes to plan, the tech TIBCO provides will help prevent or at least significantly reduce the 1.4 million intrusion attacks that hit US government systems every month. How? By building up a picture of activity patterns that become actionable in real time.

Then there was the conversation I had with KPMG, which recently kicked out Yammer in favor of tibbr, TIBCO's offering in the social messaging and collaboration space. KPMG? whoda thunk? They built a compelling business case that should resonate with any professional services organisation - talent and IP retention. For those with a discerning palette, tibbr fulfils the requirement to have content in the context of process as a pre-requisite to meaningful implementation of strategy with a social component. I could go on but that should be enough to get the curious thinking.

It was against this backdrop that Vinnie Mirchandani and I spent time with Ranadivé picking through the high level strategy 'stuff.' The video above is part one of a short series that capture the essence of our conversation. It is when you sit back and absorb what he is saying that the big picture emerges. Here are my show notes:

0:00 - Navigating through the rear view mirror is the way of the past.

2:33 - The irony of having data that is locked up in systems

5:41 - No Gartner terms for what TIBCO does

6:43 - Finding the event value in business

7:38 - Contextualising events against the data to solve business problems

8:26 - The quants transition to industry as problem solvers

The times are represented by a series of dots on the video timeline that you can use to pick pieces of the show that interest you.

Above everything, I get the feeling Vinnie and I were witnessing the exemplification of what internal tech innovation and vision at the business level is about. It's not one thing. It's not about a 'social anything' or messaging, or event-driven or analytics or an in-memory panacea. It is all of that and more as part of the technical fabric which defines the tech requirements underpinning needed for differentiating real-time success. All convincingly delivered by a man who normally shuns the limelight and who feels instinctively more comfortable talking to the science and math of his chosen field.

AlsoTibco's CTO Matt Quinn says big changes are happening in enterprise IT

It is not for everyone but for this commentator, our conversation represented one of the most inspiring highlights of the conference season. It reminded me of the days when SAP conferences shone with vision. In this case it was coming from a company that has augmented its original vision to one that's aligned to its perception of 21st century needs. Not one that sits back on the fat of maintenance fees and hopes for the best. That alone is worth the kudos.

For those interested in the keynote 'version' I shot and edited selected highlights.

Disclosure: TIBCO covered my travel and expenses for attending the conference.


I fully anticipate TIBCOs vision will be drowned out in the noise surrounding next week's Oracle Open World, where the discussion will return to easy stuff like databases and big boxes. That's just fine. I equally anticipate that people will be chewing on Randivé's words long after we've all forgotten what Oracle pitched.

Despite my opinion, it is not all sweetness and light. In a follow up piece, I talk to some of the critiques surrounding TIBCO.

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